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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Spring 2020 Showcase: Rescue dogs, a family curse, the Paralympics, deadly magic, and more!

Book mail is my favorite of all the mail. Our UPS guy probably hates me, but for me, the fact that I get packages of books delivered almost daily is VERY EXCITING!

All of the books I get end up going back out the door in some fashion—to young readers I know, to classroom libraries of friends, to my own school, my kid’s school, or in giveaways. I can’t read/review every book I get, but it’s fun to be able to sift through boxes and see what grabs my attention, and to see what books will find loving new homes with the right reader.

Pull out your TBR lists or get ready to add to the orders for books that stock your library or classroom shelves. Today I’m sharing with you forthcoming titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All annotations are from the publisher.

Check my Twitter (@CiteSomething) for a giveaway where you can enter to win some of these books! 

Middle Grade

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter (ISBN-13: 9780358003199 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 03/03/2020 Ages 10-12)

New York Times best-selling author Ally Carter’s middle grade debut is full of mystery, mayhem, and friendship, and it will keep you guessing until the very end.

April had absolutely no intention of becoming the only person who knows that Gabriel Winterborne, the missing-and-presumed-dead billionaire, is actually living in the basement of Winterborne House, sharpening his swords and looking for vengeance. 

Now it’s up to April to keep him alive. But there’s only so much a twelve-year-old girl can do, so April must turn to the other orphans for help. Together, they’ll have to unravel the riddle of a missing heir and a creepy legend, and find a secret key, before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever. 

On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, Kenard Pak (ISBN-13: 9780358129400 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 04/07/2020 Ages 10-12)

From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII’s most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak.

Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this stunning work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.  Based on the lives of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and civilians in Hiroshima, On the Horizon contemplates humanity and war through verse that sings with pain, truth, and the importance of bridging cultural divides. With poems about individual sailors who lost their lives on the Arizona and about the citizens of Hiroshima who experienced unfathomable horror, this masterful work emphasizes empathy and understanding in search of commonality and friendship, vital lessons for students as well as citizens of today’s world. Kenard Pak’s stunning illustrations depict real-life people, places, and events, making for an incredibly vivid return to our collective past.

In turns haunting, heartbreaking, and uplifting, On The Horizon will remind readers of the horrors and heroism in our past, as well as offer hope for our future.

Brave by Jennifer Li Shotz (ISBN-13: 9780358108726 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 04/07/2020 Ages 7-10)

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Max comes a heartwarming, middle grade adventure story about a rescue dog, Brave, who befriends a troubled boy in the heart of Texas.

Brave is a dog without a home. After surviving a hurricane in San Antonio, Texas, stray dog Brave is hungry and afraid. When twelve-year-old Dylan finds Brave, he’s feeling lost himself. Dylan can’t help but think they were brought together for a reason. But Dylan knows it’ll take hard work and training in order to convince his parents that he can keep this skittish pup. As Dylan and Brave’s friendship grows, they learn to rescue each other in more ways than one. Can Dylan give Brave a forever home?

Poppy by Jennifer Li Shotz (ISBN-13: 9780358108733 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 04/07/2020 Ages 7-10)

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Max comes a heartwarming, middle grade story about a misunderstood rescue dog, Poppy, who finds kinship with an outcast girl on the coast of Northern California.

Poppy is a dog with a problem. She has too much energy, and her elderly owner can keep her only if she can be trained. When twelve-year-old Hannah moves to the coast of Northern California, she thinks she can help turn this rambunctious puppy into the good dog she knows Poppy is. But Hannah realizes Poppy’s reputation as a pit bull means she has to work even harder to prove that Poppy and dogs like her deserve a second chance. Will Hannah train Poppy into the perfect dog before it’s too late?

A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games by Lori Alexander, Allan Drummond (ISBN-13: 9781328580795 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 04/07/2020 Ages 7-10)

Telling the inspiring human story behind the creation of the Paralympics, this young readers biography artfully combines archival photos, full-color illustrations, and a riveting narrative to honor the life of Ludwig Guttmann, whose work profoundly changed so many lives. 

Dedicating his life to helping patients labeled “incurables,” Ludwig Guttmann fought for the rights of paraplegics to live a full life. The young doctor believed—and eventually proved—that physical movement is key to healing, a discovery that led him to create the first Paralympic Games. 

Told with moving text and lively illustrations, and featuring the life stories of athletes from the Paralympic Games Ludwig helped create, this story of the man who saved lives through sports will inspire readers of all backgrounds. 

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron (ISBN-13: 978-1328635181 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 05/05/2020 Ages 10-12)

In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her southside Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army lead by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.       

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan (ISBN-13: 978-0358116684 Publisher: Clarion Books Publication date: 05/12/2020 Ages 10-12)

A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth-graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends? 

Catalyst by Sarah Beth Durst (ISBN-13: 978-0358065029 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 06/09/2020 Ages 10-12)

Zoe must figure out how to keep a giant kitten safe in this magical adventure about change, expectation, and accepting all for who they truly are—regardless of shape or size.

Zoe named the kitten Pipsqueak, because she was so tiny, and promised to always take care of her. Then the kitten grew. And grew. Now she’s bigger than a horse—and talking as well! Fleeing into the woods to escape the curious eyes of the Internet, Zoe and her best friend, Harrison, must keep the giant cat hidden as they desperately search for a way to return her to normal size. If they don’t succeed, Pipsqueak may never be safe again. But why did she grow so large in the first place? And what if trying to change her back leads to even greater danger?

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison (ISBN-13: 9780358193319 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 08/04/2020 Ages 8-12)

A spellbinding middle grade fantasy about three sisters—adventurous Betty, curious Charlie, and proper Fliss—who go on a quest to break the curse that’s haunted their family for generations.

All Betty Widdershins wants is an adventure—one that takes her far away from Crowstone, the gloomy island where she’s always lived. But instead of an adventure, Betty and her sisters Fliss and Charlie are given of a set of magical objects, each with its own powers: a scruffy carpet bag, a set of wooden nesting dolls, and a gilt-framed mirror. And these magical objects come with their own terrible secret: the sisters’ family is haunted by a generations-long curse that prevents them from ever leaving their island—at the cost of death.

The sisters set out to break the curse and free their family forever. But after stumbling upon a mysterious prisoner who claims to be able to help them, they find themselves in great danger. And in order to break the curse—and stay alive—they must unravel a mystery that goes back centuries, one that involves shipwrecks, smugglers, and sorcery of the most perilous kind.

Young Adult

Thank You for Coming to My TED Talk: A Teen Guide to Great Public Speaking by Chris Anderson, Lorin Oberweger (ISBN-13: 9781328995070 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 03/10/2020 Ages 12 up)

A teen edition of the New York Times best-selling TED TALKS: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, chock-full of tips and techniques to help teens become confident, capable speakers.

For today’s teen, being able to communicate clearly in front of an audience is essential. From class presentations to interviews to online videos, an engaging talk can not only inspire and electrify a room, it can change people’s minds, and even change the world.  

Thank You for Coming to My TED Talk is the definitive guide to public speaking for a teen audience. Crafted around a teen’s day-to-day world—school, extracurriculars, online videos, college admissions procedures, bat and bar mitzvahs, debates, and more—head of TED Chris Anderson shares proven techniques honed through years of watching teen speakers, including Tavi Gevinson and Chelsea Clinton, wow TED audiences. It includes everything teens need to persuade, inspire, and inform others. This comprehensive, accessible guide will help any teen become a confident, capable speaker.

Brown Girl Ghosted by Mintie Das (ISBN-13: 9780358128892 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 03/24/2020 Ages 14-18)

We Were Liars meets Riverdale with a supernatural twist in this timely #metoo thriller about mean girls, murder, and race in a quiet Midwestern suburb.

Violet Choudry may be part of the popular clique at school, but as one of a handful of brown girls in a small Illinois town, all she really wants to do is blend in and disappear. Unfortunately for her, she’s got a knack for seeing spirits, including the dead—something she’s tried to ignore all her life. But when the queen bee of Violet’s cheerleading squad ends up dead following a sex tape that’s not as consensual as everyone wants to believe, Violet’s friends from the spirit world decide it’s the perfect time for Violet to test her skills and finally accept the legacy of spiritual fighters from whom she’s descended. Her mission? Find the killer. 
Or else she’s next.

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People by Elizabeth Rusch (ISBN-13: 9780358176923 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 03/31/2020 Ages 12-18)

America is the greatest democracy in the world . . . isn’t it? Author Elizabeth Rusch examines some of the more problematic aspects of our government but, more importantly, offers ways for young people to fix them.

The power to change lies with the citizens of this great country. Sharing multiple success stories from across the country of people young and old who have made changes to voting policy and structure, and wrapping up with a thorough “what to do now, and how” summary, Rusch has given politically charged readers who are tired of wondering why things aren’t better a handbook on how to make it better, starting NOW!

Golden Arm by Carl Deuker (ISBN-13: 9780358012429 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 04/07/2020 Ages 12-18)

In this riveting story about baseball and brotherhood, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks finds himself pitching his way out of poverty–one strike at a time. By “a premier author of provocative YA sports novels” (The Bulletin).

Lazarus “Laz” Weathers has always been shy, and his issue with stuttering when he speaks hasn’t helped. Stuck in a Seattle trailer park, Laz finds baseball helps him escape from the world of poverty and drugs. When he gets an opportunity to pitch for the rich kids across town, he has a chance to get drafted by the major leagues. 

But playing for the other team means leaving behind his family, including Antonio, Laz’s younger brother, who more and more, seems to be drawn to the dark world of the Jet City’s drug ring. Now Laz will have to choose between being the star pitcher he always dreamed of becoming and the team player his family needs.   

By the Book by Amanda Sellet (ISBN-13: 978-0358156611 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 05/12/2020 Ages 12 up)

In this clever YA rom-com debut perfect for fans of Kasie West and Ashley Poston, a teen obsessed with nineteenth-century literature tries to cull advice on life and love from her favorite classic heroines to disastrous results—especially when she falls for the school’s resident Lothario.

Mary Porter-Malcolm has prepared for high school in the one way she knows how: an extensive review of classic literature to help navigate the friendships, romantic liaisons, and overall drama she has come to expect from such an “esteemed” institution. When some new friends seem in danger of falling for the same tricks employed since the days of Austen and Tolstoy, Mary swoops in to create the Scoundrel Survival Guide, using archetypes of literature’s debonair bad boys to signal red flags. But despite her best efforts, she soon finds herself unable to listen to her own good advice and falling for a supposed cad—the same one she warned her friends away from. Without a convenient rain-swept moor to flee to, Mary is forced to admit that real life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction and that if she wants a happy ending, she’s going to have to write it herself. 

Kissing Lessons by Sophie Jordan (ISBN-13: 978-1328977076 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 06/02/2020 Ages 14 up)

A steamy contemporary YA romance by New York Times best-selling author Sophie Jordan about a girl with a bad reputation giving lessons on how to attract guys for some extra cash—only to fall for her client’s golden boy brother. For fans of Kami Garcia, Katie McGarry, and Netflix’s Sex Education. 

Wild, beautiful, and (as rumor has it) experienced, Hayden Vargas doesn’t have time for love or relationships. She’s learned the hard way that the only person you can count on is yourself and ,she’s hell-bent on earning enough money to leave her small, judgy Texas town as fast as possible. So when nerdy Emmaline Martin offers to pay Hayden for lessons in seduction, the money is so easy, there must be a catch. Enter the catch: Emmaline’s older brother, popular, all-around nice guy™ Nolan Martin, who doesn’t want his sister’s reputation tarnished by the school’s resident bad girl.

But Hayden should know that looks can be deceiving. Nolan may seem like a golden boy, but like Hayden, he has a few secrets of his own. And the more he meddles in her lessons with Emmaline, the more these polar opposites clash—and the more sparks fly. Turns out Nolan may have some lessons to teach Hayden, but only if she’s willing to learn.

Sarah Bernhardt: The Divine and Dazzling Life of the World’s First Superstar by Catherine Reef (ISBN-13: 9781328557506 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 06/16/2020 Ages 14 up)

A tantalizing biography for teens on Sarah Bernhardt, the first international celebrity and one of the greatest actors of all time, who lived a highly unconventional, utterly fascinating life. Illustrated with more than sixty-five photos of Bernhardt on stage, in film, and in real life.

Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage actor who became a global superstar in the late nineteenth century—the Lady Gaga of her day—and is still considered to be one of the greatest performers of all time. This fast-paced account of her life, filled with provocative detail, brilliantly follows the transformation of a girl of humble origins, born to a courtesan, into a fabulously talented, wealthy, and beloved icon. Not only was her acting trajectory remarkable, but her personal life was filled with jaw-dropping exploits, and she was extravagantly eccentric, living with a series of exotic animals and sleeping in a coffin. She grew to be deeply admired around the world, despite her unabashed and public promiscuity at a time when convention was king; she slept with each of her leading men and proudly raised a son without a husband. A fascinating and fast-paced deep dive into the world of the divine Sarah. Illustrated with more than sixty-five photos of Bernhardt on stage, in film, and in real life.

All These Monsters by Amy Tintera (ISBN-13: 978-0358012405 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 07/07/2020 Ages 14 up)

From New York Times best-selling author Amy Tintera, a high-stakes sci-fi adventure about a teen girl who will do anything to escape her troubled home—even if that means joining a dangerous monster-fighting squad. Perfect for fans of Warcross and Renegades

Seventeen-year-old Clara is ready to fight back. Fight back against her abusive father, fight back against the only life she’s ever known, and most of all, fight back against scrabs, the earth-dwelling monsters that are currently ravaging the world. So when an opportunity arises for Clara to join an international monster-fighting squad, she jumps at the chance.

When Clara starts training with her teammates, however, she realizes what fighting monsters really means: sore muscles, exhaustion, and worst of all, death. Scrabs are unpredictable, violent, and terrifying. But as Clara gains confidence in her battle skills, she starts to realize scrabs might not be the biggest evil. The true monsters are the ones you least expect.

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy (ISBN-13: 9780358142737 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 07/21/2020 Ages 12 up)

Enchantée meets Downton Abbey in this atmospheric YA historical fantasy set in nineteenth-century Denmark, where secrets can kill and magic is a deadly gift.

For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy: it flows freely through her blood, but every use leaves behind a deadly, ice-like build-up within her veins called the Firn. Marit knows how dangerous it is to let too much Firn build up—after all, it killed her sister—and she has vowed never to use her thread magic. But when Eve, a fellow orphan whom Marit views like a little sister, is adopted by the wealthy Helene Vestergaard, Marit will do anything to stay by Eve’s side. She decides to risk the Firn and uses magic to secure a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household.

But Marit has a second, hidden agenda: her father died while working in the Vestergaards’ jewel mines—and it might not have been an accident. The closer Marit gets to the truth about the Vestergaard family, the more she realizes she and everyone she’s come to love are in danger. When she finds herself in the middle of a treacherous deception that goes all the way up to the king of Denmark, magic may be the only thing that can save her—if it doesn’t kill her first.

Cut Off by Adrianne Finlay (ISBN-13: 9780358006459 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 08/11/2020 Ages 12 up)

Warcross meets Lost in this haunting young adult sci-fi thriller in which teens compete to survive in the wilderness for one million dollars on a new virtual reality show. When something goes horribly wrong and the contestants realize no one is coming to save them, they must question their very reality—and how much of the game is really for show.

Each contestant has their own reasons—and their own secrets—for joining the new virtual reality show CUT/OFF that places a group of teenagers alone in the wilderness. It’s a simple premise: whoever lasts the longest without “tapping out” wins a cash prize. Not only that, new software creates a totally unprecedented television experience, allowing viewers to touch, see, and live everything along with the contestants. But what happens when “tapping out” doesn’t work and no one comes to save you? What happens when the whole world seemingly disappears while you’re stranded in the wild? Four teenagers must confront their greatest fears, their deepest secrets, and one another when they discover they are truly cut off from reality. Sci-fi, mystery, and romance converge in this high-stakes, fast-paced read that will leave you guessing to the very last moment.

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